Springboard for students

The challenges that students will be confronted with, once they graduate, are becoming increasingly complex. Besides requiring solid background in a core discipline, there is a demand for ability to work at the intersection between a range of fields and this is where interdisciplinary becomes important. Our goal is to give students an opportunity to confront themselves with the challenges posed by interdisciplinarity during their training, giving them a head start in developing the necessary skills they will need in their professional future.

By participating in the ProCam project, students will acquire solid team-working and project management skills and get a first hands-on experience in a real-world project at the same time. These skills will further boost their core competencies.

ProCam is an interdisciplinary Make project supported by EPFL and federates Bachelor, Master, and Doctoral students of EPFL open to most students regardless their area of study. 



Many contagious diseases such as Covid-19 can induce high temperatures and fever in a significant number of affected individuals. Contact tracing of such individuals and analysis of their behaviour and interactions with others and their environment can be a useful tool to contain spread of contagious diseases. This is in particular useful for back-to-work strategy as well as protection of critical personnel or more vulnerable individuals. Existing solutions are either too expensive (e.g. high-end thermal cameras) or not precise enough (e.g. contact tracing using smartphones). Also, surveillance and analysis of their content pose various ethical challenges, including invasion of privacy.


What it does

We propose a solution that allows for efficient tracking of individuals potentially infected by a transmissible disease while their identity is protected at the same time. However, it will be possible to recover the identity using cryptographic keys if a consent is given or when an authority makes a request. A key component of the system is an innovative camera that combines infrared/thermal and visible light sensors while securing the visible light images. The camera sends captured images using real-time streaming to a server while it protects the anonymity of individuals in the scene by hiding the visible light images inside thermal images using a cryptographic tool called transmorphing. The proposed solution is more accurate when compared to solutions which use smartphone position localisation or relative distance between devices through Bluetooth discovery, to trace proximity between individuals. It also does not require that individuals carry a smartphone or install a specific app. The camera is low-cost when compared to existing thermal camera solutions to measure temperature from distance.


How it is built

We designed and built a new type of connected camera with multiple sensors that can track people while protecting their privacy and at the same time identify those with high body temperature. The device is in form of a kitset made of off-shelf components and open software that will allow anybody to build it at low cost, easily install, and start using it. A dedicated server records all captured footage in a secure and anonymized way with possibility of further analysis, visualization and eventual de-anonymization. We also created an innovative custom camera enclosure to protect its components while making it easy to install anywhere.


Accomplishments that we’re proud of

  • A complete design of hardware architecture of the camera from off-shelf components.
  • Visible light as well as infrared/thermal video capture and streaming based on existing open-source software.
  • Enhancement of the software by including a revolutionary reversible anonymization solution made in EPFL!
  • A customized design of the camera enclosure enabling its easy installation anywhere.


Activities carried by students in 2020

To see these topics in more detail follow this link to the project presentation of each student.


What’s next

Dozen of students are already interested to be part of the ProCam project for the Spring 2021 semester. As proof of commitment and motivation coming from the students, several of them continue the adventure to bring ProCam further. A lot of challenges are still on the paper, such as Transmorfing to guarantee the anonymity of individuals.